Since the death of Martin in December 1999 we have felt compelled to do what ever we can as a family to prevent others from having to experience this horrific disease.
Sadly for us Martin, at fourteen, was statistically deemed too young to be most at risk.
He would have received the Meningitis C vaccine the following year in 2000. Now 3 years on, everyone less than 24 years of age should have been vaccinated against Meningitis C.
Meningitis B virus, on the other hand, still has no effective vaccine and accounts for 60% of all Meningitis cases across all age groups in the U.K. but especially children under five.
This is why we believe it is important to carry on the fight against this vicious disease.
On the 30th April this year we proudly attended along with many others the official opening of the Spencer Dayman Meningitis Laboratories in Bristol. We were able to tour the completed Laboratories and see for ourselves the transformation that has taken place since we last visited 2 years ago.
We were shown the 2 pieces of equipment carrying Martin's name that with your help we were able to buy for the unit. It was a very emotional pilgrimage for us.
Local Newspaper Report
- November 2007
" You never get over
it. You simply develop mechanisms for coping" says Ray Finch.
Eight years ago
this December, it took just 48 hours for bacterial meningitis to claim
the life of Ray
and Jackie's 14-year-old son Martin.
Since then, the couple have raised more than £80,000 through their
Martin Finch Memorial Fund to
fund the fight against meningitis.
Their latest event is their seventh annual gala ball at the Hilton
Avisford Park Hotel at Walberton on November 24.
But the pain doesn't lessen, says Ray, of Aldwick Felds.
"You try not to let it change you, but you can't go through a trauma
like that and it not have an impact on you. You don't get over it. You
just learn ways to cope with life without Martin.
“He was 14. It is difficult to imagine how he would be now. He would
have been 22 this year. Part of you is stuck in a time capsule
remembering what he was like at 14. All the pictures stop at 14.
“And one of the downsides of fund-raising is that you get constantly
reminded. You have to be able speak about Martin, talk about Martin to
justify to people who don't know just what you are doing. I suppose
that's why some people don't fund-raise at all. They might have the mind
for it but just not the stomach.”
But for Ray, the point is that the fund-raising is done very much in a
manner reflecting Martin's spirit.
“Martin was absolutely fun-loving. Fourteen is such a lovely age. There
is still that innocence. They have not quite grown up. There are right
in between becoming a teenager and still being a boy. Martin just lived
for life from that point of view. He always had a smile on his face. He
was always mucking about in the nicest way. That's why our fund-raising
events are fun events.”
In one sense, things have moved on considerably since Martin's death
from meningitis C.
“When the government announced the vaccine in 1999, it had to
prioritise. Martin would have got it in 2000, but at the time there was
a cut-off point and Martin was not deemed to be at risk at that time so
his older brother got the vaccine and Martin's year didn't.
“Now that has all changed. Now everyone under the age of 25 can get it.
The vaccine has proved to be extremely effective and has almost
eradicated meningitis C from this country.”
Now the emphasis is on eradicating meningitis B for which the vaccine is
still believed to be six years away. On Monday, December 8, 1999, Martin
left school as usual and went to his friend's house to get ready for
their weekly game of squash. He arrived with a headache. He was given
paracetamol to alleviate the pain but it didn't seem to help.
Ray recalls: "He called home and said he was feeling unwell. He didn't
feel well enough to play squash or even ride his bike home, which was
very unusual, so our elder son, Scott, who was 17 at the time, went to
collect him in the car.
When Martin got home, his headache was getting worse and he went to bed
at 6pm when his mum got home.
Reluctantly Jackie gave him Nurofen as a stronger painkiller. Within an
hour Martin had been sick.
As Jackie does not take Nurofen herself because it makes her nauseous
she felt that she had caused the sickness. On several occasions during
the evening his body was checked for a rash and for any pain that he
might be in to other parts of his body. He had none.
“Midnight came and Martin told his mother to go to bed. He just had a
At six the next morning Martin woke his parents. He was disoriented,
became incontinent and had a large rash appearing all over his back. Ray
and Jackie knew immediately that Martin had meningitis and called an
By 7am Martin was in Chichester accident and emergency. The family saw a
junior doctor who administered penicillin. A few moments later a senior
consultant looked at Martin and decided that he needed to be incubated,
put to sleep for his own comfort and prepared for total life support. He
wasn't to wake again.
“He was then moved to intensive care. Because he was going to need renal
care, a specialist team came through from the ICU unit at Queen
Alexandra Hospital in Cosham. They worked to get Martin into a stable
condition before the transfer."
One of the doctors explained to Ray and Jackie that Martin's condition
was very serious. They 'lost' him several times in the transfer between
Ray and Jackie started to contact their family to prepare them for the
news and over the next few hours Martin's closest family arrived at the
hospital to be with the couple.
“The staff at the hospital were incredible, they kept us informed every
step of the way and we stayed by his bedside so everyone could spend
time with him. On Wednesday at 3.30pm the doctors informed us that there
was just too much pressure on Martin's heart and that there was nothing
they could do.
We had to make the decision to turn off the life-support machine; we had
already lost Martin - it was too late to save him.
“Losing Martin was the worst 48 hours of our lives. How are you meant to
cope with losing a child so suddenly, with so little warning? It was
important for us to make sense of our loss and how it happened.
“When we finally came home without Martin, we were all in total shock.
There were memories of him all over the house: his clothes, his books,
his gadgets. He was everywhere and the pain was unbelievable."
Ray added: "Since the death of Martin in December 1999 we have felt
compelled to do whatever we can as a family to prevent others from
having to experience this horrific disease. It would be truly amazing to
find a vaccine. No family should have to go through the pain we are all